Six Things You Didn’t Know About Us

Elaine and Francesca reveal six snippets each about themselves you may not know.


1: I wrote my first novel when I was in my mid-twenties, I’m not going to tell you how long ago that was, but it’s suffice to say I’m now a grandmother. I sent it off to Mills and Boon, as they were known then, and received a lovely rejection. However, it was at this point that life got in the way and the decision was made to bury my dream, because things like that don’t happen to people like me. Joining The Write Place and The Romantic Novelists Association (RNA) has taught me to follow my dreams, because every author I have met has been like every other person you meet.

Alas CD's and not vinyls.

Alas CD’s and not vinyls.

2: I grew up listening to various types of music, my mum was a Rat Pack fan and my father was a massive Beatles fan and both play a huge part in my music collection. However, what was a shock to me, and consequently I am sure no-one else could possibly know, is that my favourite decade for music is the sixties. The only exception is the Glam Rock years, ahh my teenage years.

3: Before the writing took hold, my creativity was in the form of needlework and crocheting. I found it relaxing, with some wonderful finished items. It was always a favourite hobby of mine and as a young mum, I saved money by making my own clothes and my children’s. I also did alterations and made outfits for other people.

IMG_01434: For as long as I can remember I have been a home girl. There is nothing I like better then being curled up in a chair with a good book. As a child, my mother worried I wasn’t getting enough fresh air, and in her mind I should have been out playing, having fun; what she didn’t understand was that I was having fun in my imaginary world. Unfortunately, the more I write, the less I read and that is something I do miss.

5: My father was a military man and when I was just over fourteen, we moved to Germany. I had to wait several months for a school place and consequently found a job working for the Navy, Army, Air Force Institute (NAAFI) and I stayed working there for nearly three years.

Elaine at the RNA Awards evening.

Me at the RNA Awards evening.

6: I am going to end on something that might astound some people. I am a very shy person. It takes a lot for me to walk into a room of strangers and I will very rarely speak to someone I don’t know. I always assume nobody will remember me. It probably comes across as standoffish and that is hopefully not what I am. If you see me at an event at any time, please come and say hello because I will definitely be too shy to come over to you. I am more secure in my imaginary world.


1: Anita Roddick of Body Shop fame was my second cousin. Both her father and step father were first cousins of my dad, and of each other. Her parents’ love story, both complicated and fascinating, is detailed in Anita’s biography. It would make a great premise for a novel. FB & EJ

2: Several years ago I met actor Elijah Wood and had this photograph taken with him. I was at a London Comic Con with fellow Lord of the Rings fans. Elijah was utterly charming.

3: I’ve spoken often of being half Italian and half Welsh, but in fact I am one sixteenth Devonshire on my mum’s side. Many people in the late 19th/early 20th century, farm labourers and tin miners for instance, moved from the West Country to South Wales to work in the coal mines. Most of the rest of my Welsh family came from farming in West Wales and the slate mines in North Wales. I’ve written two stories based on them so far and I’m sure there are many more stories to be told.

Lorenzo Capaldi, c1908. He won a medal for his work during the 1908 earthquake.

Lorenzo Capaldi, c19o8

4: One of my middle names is a boy’s name. Andrea (pronounced ‘Andraya’) means ‘Andrew’ in Italian and is never used for girls.  My mother wanted it as my first name but my father wouldn’t hear of it. My other middle name is Giuliana.

Islwyn Morgan, late 1930s.

Islwyn Morgan, late 1930s.

5: Both my grandfathers died long before I was born. My maternal grandfather, Islwyn Morgan, died of cancer at the age of 30 during World War II. My paternal grandfather, Lorenzo Capaldi, was killed in World War I in his early thirties. His widow and son (ie, my grandmother and father) featured in an imagined short story I wrote that you can read in the anthology 7 Food Stories from Rome.

6: I was a millionairess for ten years… That is to say, I was a lire millionairess! After my aunty Carmela died she left my father several million Italian lire. It took ten years for Italy to release the money, by which time my father had died and I became the ‘heiress’. The resultant money was worth around £2,500.

Have you any little nuggets to share?



We Were Just Chatting…

Francesca and I were chatting about the hobbies we’ve had in the past and present and it was only when I looked back that I realised mine were all solitary activities. knitting-bak

I used to make my own clothes, in the days before the low priced high street retailers. Choosing crocheting over knitting; I could never knit quickly enough although my mother was able to knit at lightning speed.

546px-CrosswordUK.svgAll word games have always given me immense pleasure. I can remember as a child writing the word Constantinople on a piece of paper and seeing how many words I could make out of it. The words had to be at least four letters long.

Reading was always the greatest pleasure of all. It was not unusual for me to get caught reading under the blankets with a torch when I should have been asleep. My mother worried about how much reading I did, instead of being out in the fresh air playing but that was never for me, and strangely enough it still isn’t.

Nowadays, while I still love to read, all my free time is spent with either my family or writing. report_writingWhile I love writing, I also hate it at the same time, which sounds a little strange. It makes me wonder why I persist with it. The answer is simple, I can’t help myself, it’s like a drug with the highs and the frustrating lows.

You would think from that list that I was a lonely child/adult and at times you would be correct but for best part, I think I’m quite self-sufficient. Maybe it comes from being born into a military family and moving around every couple of years.

What do you think Francesca, do you like your own company or are your hobbies more group based?

Thank you, Elaine, for sharing that. I’d say that some of my hobbies are solitary, others communal.

Writing is my very oldest hobby. Ten years ago I started participating on a Lord of the Rings forum, and writing fanfic for it. I enjoyed it immensely. It was one of the things, along with finding a creative writing class, that got me back into writing, and eventually submitting.

HobbiesOf my other hobbies, Italian has been dominant. I wasn’t raised bilingually, but joined a class as an adult. I did that for well over twenty years, gaining a GCSE and an A level. I still meet up with those friends and we have cultural trips out – often with an Italian connection.

The ‘piano badly’ is an instrument I play expertly! I had lessons as a child and have owned a piano most of my life. My father was a proficient violinist, guitarist and mandolin player. That musical gene has made my children much better musicians than me. Between them they play piano, guitar, bass, mandolin, flute, saxophone and drums. The girls are ten times better on the piano than me, and they’ve never had lessons. But tickling the ivories is a good way to relax. I have also been known to clear a room with my recorder!family tree

I took up knitting again recently and have been teaching myself crochet. I like quick patterns these days, so it’s big needles and chunky wool for me. I used to sew, in fact, I made my wedding dress and a Christening gown. I would not recommend it!

I also dabble with genealogy, that is to say, I can spend hours on end on I find the social history side of it absolutely fascinating.

Music is the only one of my interests I’ve never covered in a story or novel. I’ll have to put that right some time.